The AQHA Intern Experience

Five Things Being #AQHAProud Taught Me

Owning an American Quarter Horse can play an integral role in who you become.

Owning your first American Quarter Horse is an #AQHAProud moment. Photo: Holly Wilson.

Up until December 2015, I would piggy-back off of my grandma and ride her horses. She would relinquish them to me for my enjoyment, but after I was done riding, I was done. Somebody else fed, somebody else cleaned, somebody else vaccinated … I was blissfully unaware of all the time and effort that went into maintaining the performance horses I loved so much.

That all changed on December 27, 2015, when I stepped into the stirrup of a petite, fuzzy, bay mare named Get A Mister. An own daughter of Mister Dual Pep and out of Get A Master, she was bred to be a performance horse, and a good one to boot.

I knew I liked her within the first five minutes. She was soft, gentle and correct, with a little bit of spitfire. After she completely nailed two flying lead changes, I knew that I had to have her.

Today, “Getta” is the first American Quarter Horse that I have ever owned. And the only thing better than receiving her as a difficult-to-wrap Christmas present was getting her AQHA registration papers in the mail.

Getta was packed up and moved to college with me this past year, where I realized that, as a horse owner, I have to wear many hats. I am her mommy, the food lady, the cookie hider, the pooper scooper, the water filler, the on-call vet and so many more things.

After a year of having her at school, there are five things that I have learned.

  1. Owning a horse is hard. There are times when I wish I could pay someone else to feed her or sit in bed instead of going out to ride … but I signed up for this! I was prepared to sacrifice for her, and even though it’s difficult at times, it’s also been the most rewarding experience of my life. She has taught me perseverance, consistency and determination.
  2. TLC goes a long way. Getta receives the best nutrition that I can provide her, weekly spa days and a clean pen twice a day. She is about as spoiled as they come. But, it has improved her performance and her appearance. She has taught me to slow down and enjoy a bubble bath, a cookie and a good roll.
  3. Trying new things is fun. I’ve never been one for trail riding, but Getta is one of the best horses to explore with. Roaming across campus or going out and hitting the hills has never been this fun, and her mind is refreshed by getting out of the arena. She has taught me that it’s OK to relax, even with a demanding college schedule.
  4. Keeping a calendar is lifechanging. I’ve always been a good planner, but not like this. When Getta came to school with me, my grandma sent me with a calendar to track her records. And let me tell you, I’ve got everything in there from vet records to shoeing dates to the last time she was vaccinated for West Nile. Paying attention to my horse’s poop habits also nearly saved her life during a colic scare in July. She has taught me that borderline obsession is OK.
  5. Staying on budget is important. Like I said before, I had no idea how much was put into performance horses. I spent more money in one year than I care to admit on tack, apparel and feed for my horse. Adopting a budget was one of my better ideas, even though it came toward the end of the year. She has taught me to be fiscally responsible.

Though these might seem like trivial things for a 21-year-old to learn, they have helped develop me into a more well-rounded adult. Since having to care for my own horse 24/7, I have learned to appreciate the small victories. Whether it be knowing exactly how much a bale of alfalfa costs or being able to tell my vet the last time she was sick (not on my watch, bugs), I am developing necessary life skills through my American Quarter Horse.

So my only question is… what is your American Quarter Horse teaching you?